(Last updated Oct 7, 2019)

Flying With Hearing Aids

I recently returned from a vacation that involved quite a few flights, and on the final leg of my trip, I couldn’t help but notice the lady in front of me wearing a set of Oticon hearing aids. It got me thinking- what do people do with hearing aids while flying? Between passing through security and dealing with the change of air pressure in the cabin, my interest was piqued, so I set out to do a little research. So if you have a flight coming up, hopefully this can serve as a brief guide.

Do you have to take your hearing aids off when going through the metal detector?

No. You do not have to take off your hearing aids while walking through the metal detector. For a definitive answer on this, I took a look at TSA’s guidelines here. Here is what the TSA has to say about this:

“If a passenger who is deaf or hard of hearing uses hearing aids or a cochlear implant, he or she can be screened without removing the device. Additional screening, including a patdown or inspection of a device, may be required if it alarms a walk-through metal detector or appears as an anomaly when screened by imaging technology. Devices may also be subject to additional screening if they are X-rayed as part of the passenger’s carry-on bags.”

Will the screening technology damage my hearing aids?

No. Metal detectors, x-rays, scanners, etc, do not damage hearing aids. If anything, you may notice your hearing aids making unusual sounds as you pass through security. In anticipation of this, it may be a good idea to turn the volume of your hearing aids down before you pass through the full body scanner to reduce any unpleasant sounds.

Can I wear my hearing aids in flight?

Absolutely. When passengers are asked to turn off electronic devices, this does not apply to hearing aids. Hearing aids will not interfere with the planes navigational instruments in any way. However, one thing that you may want to consider is how the change of air pressure may temporarily change your hearing. On one of my recent flights, I suddenly had a pretty severe pain in one of my ears. I later learned this is known as barotitis media, and it’s the result of unequal air pressure on the two sides of the eardrum. To prevent this, it’s a good idea to chew gum when on your descent, yawn, or swallow, to try and “pop” your ears and equalize the air pressure.

In addition, keep in mind that as the air pressure changes you may notice your hearing slowly getting worse. In anticipation of this, it may be a good idea to have your hearing provider program in different volume levels to your hearing aids, so that as this starts happening, you can slowly raise the volume in flight to accommodate the change in your hearing.

Make sure you hear all the important announcements

Of course, you need to be able to hear all the boarding calls, gate changes, and any other notifications regarding your flight. If this is a concern, it’s a good idea to sign up for cell phone text alerts with the airline, or even download their app. I downloaded the Expedia app for my latest trip, and I got every notification immediately and was notified that everything was going according to schedule. Even without a hearing loss these apps are very useful, so I would especially encourage you to download them if you do have a hearing loss.

Taking care of your hearing aids while traveling

You may have a good routine down for taking care of your hearing aids while in your hometown, but keep the climate of your destination in mind. For example, if you are visiting a humid area, you should invest in a hearing aid dehumidifier like this one, that you can put your hearing aids in each night. You don’t want your hearing aids quitting on you while on vacation! In the event that you do have an issue with your hearing aids while away from home, you can call the manufacturer of the hearing aid and ask them to put you in touch with the name of a local reputable dealer who will service your aids for you. Often times they can help you find a provider will do this for free.

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